Maggie’s Penguin Parade

Earlier this year I was over the moon to have a design accepted for Maggie’s Penguin Parade – a fantastic public art event taking place in Dundee and Tayside this summer. Myself and seventy-odd other artists were sponsored by local companies to realise our designs on giant fibreglass penguins which were to be dotted around the Dundee area before being auctioned off to raise money for Maggie’s Centre. Maggie’s Centre provides practical, social and emotional support for people with cancer and costs £540,000 per year to run. The aim of the Penguin Parade is to keep Maggie’s doors open for a year.

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I don’t know anyone who has not experienced the devastating effect of cancer can have on their own lives or those of friends and family. It is so vital for organisations like Maggie’s to keep going so they can continue to make a crucial difference to people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable. The Penguin Parade has been organised in partnership with Wild in Art who have staged some incredible events across the globe and helped raised an enormous amount of funds for charitable causes.

My design (chosen by my sponsor Thornton’s Law ) is called ‘Penguin Classic’ and is based on one of the iconic Penguin Books book jacket designs. I chose Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ – a tale of endurance which seemed to fit with Dundee’s history and maritime heritage.

One of the lovely things about being involved with this project has been seeing all the wonderful pictures on social media of the public engaging with the Penguins and joining in the ‘Penguin Hunt’; some have actually managed to find all 80 penguins which is very dedicated! When I was there I only spotted about 10 but it was a bit of a flying visit…!

I was completely blown away by the intricate detail and creativity of so many of the designs! The artists have realised their designs with so much love, talent and care, it’s just a wonderful thing to see. You can see all of the designs on Maggie’s Penguin Parade website but really you should make the trip to Dundee if you can to see them in all their glory! The penguins are on the streets until September 7th 2018 before the grand auction will send them off to their forever homes.

Before I go I just want to share some of my favourite shots I’ve seen of Ernest from Instagram – click on the images for the larger version:

Thanks very much Maggie’s Penguin Parade, Thornton’s Law, and the people of Dundee!

 

Long Hot Summer

Apparently here in the British Isles we’re experiencing the hottest summer on record since 1976. The day they announced this on the radio I started reading a new book (randomly purchased in a library sale) with the opening sentence: “It was 1976, and the hottest summer in living memory.” Weird, right? The book is ‘The Year of the Ladybird: A Ghost Story’ by Graham Joyce, and it features a two day plague of ladybirds (usually a symbol of good luck?). Reading it I realised that I haven’t seen a single ladybird in the garden this year, which is cause for concern. And I have been spending A LOT of time in the garden, mostly trying to keep the plants from dying of thirst…

On the days it’s been too hot to go outside ( how often do we get to say that in Scotland?) I’ve been getting on with making a couple of new things in time for my first craft market of 2018 (quite late on in the year I know, I’m such a slacker) which is next month in the lovely seaside village of St Monans in the East Neuk of Fife.

These wee wooden house brooches were actually inspired by all the pretty fishing villages of the East Neuk with their coloured 18th century cottages and harbour buildings. It’s an area of the country I love so I’m really looking forward to being up there for the weekend.

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I’ll also be taking these new wooden flower stems with me – inspired of course by all the lovely colours we have in the garden at the moment. The flowers in the garden won’t last long though, so these are some you can enjoy all year round!

You can find a link to details of next month’s fair on my ‘Shop’ page, along with links to my Etsy shops where you can browse all my available work.

Here’s hoping the good weather continues (ok, maybe with the odd day of rain so I don’t have to keep getting the garden hose out) – I’m just enjoying the fact that I haven’t worn socks for 2 months.

Northern Lights

Our unusually long heatwave seems to have come to end today – for the first time in about a month I did the dog walk wearing a cagoule this morning! However, the fact that it’s grey and cloudy outside means it’s perfect blog-writing conditions, and I really want to tell you about my recent trip to Aberdeen 🙂 Back in January I was invited by a lovely wee establishment called Teasel and Tweed to be their June Maker of the Month; an absolute treasure trove stocking a huge variety of beautiful art and craft (all made in Scotland), Teasel and Tweed seemed like a good place to showcase my work so I jumped at the chance.

 

All my dioramas feel like my ‘babies’ and a lot of time and care goes into making each one, which makes me nervous about sending them out in the wild indefinitely on a sale or return basis! This is why the Maker of the Month is the perfect concept for someone like me who has a relatively small output of limited edition work – it’s like having a mini solo exhibition, and it gave me something to work towards especially at a quieter time of year when it can be easy to lose focus a little bit. Check out the Teasel and Tweed website and blog for more pictures and info here

It’s been a long time (20 years!) since I visited Aberdeen; I actually lived there for a couple of years once upon a time between school and college (for the first couple of months in a caravan park on the outskirts of the city which was fun as it was the summertime – we moved into a flat before the North East winter hit). My dad came from Aberdeen and my sister attended art school there so there were always connections. Having grown up in bang in the middle of Central Scotland it was a novelty living in a city by the sea, and I remember one summer evening a group of us decided to go to the beach to watch the sun come up…turned out not to be like in the movies as being on the North Sea coast we near froze to death!

While there recently I took a walk along the beach, stopped at one of the beach cafés for lunch, and continued on to Footdee at the south end of beach by the harbour.

If you’ve never been to Footdee (Fittie to the locals) it’s a very cute little enclave made up of squares of terraced houses with quirky sheds and huts in the middle of each square. Originally a fishing village, it gained conservation status in the 1960s and it has now become one of the most expensive areas of Aberdeen to buy property – changed days from when I lived in the city in the 1990s! Nestled beside the busy and very industrial working harbour, it wasn’t seen as hugely desirable back then, but then you could buy a flat in Aberdeen for about £20,000 so…anyway, definitely worth a visit.

Well it’s now lunchtime and the sun has come out (yay!), which means it’s time to round up the terriers for their walk round the park. Thanks for reading and remember to check out Teasel and Tweed online and in the flesh if you can!

 

 

 

How it’s made

It’s mid March and the snow has started falling again, so it seems like a good time to snuggle up under a blanket and write another blog post! My subject today is the making process, which in my case has many stages, but it’ll give you a rough overview of how I make my pictures and dioramas.

Each piece I make stems from a black and white line drawing in my sketchbook, or more often a series of drawn shapes and patterns rather than a fully formed ‘scene’. I photograph each drawing and piece them together using Photoshop on my laptop. From here I can create layers and manipulate them to give me a rough idea of how the finished picture will look.

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In a way it’s like working out how the layers for a screenprint will look, but each layer will become a ply shape rather than a silkscreen. Each piece has to fit into a frame or a box so a lot of measuring and re-measuring takes place; in the case of the above design where some shapes will touch the inner frame top and bottom, the tree sizes have to be exact to fit perfectly. Once I’m happy with this stage I can then turn each separate piece into a vector drawing using Inkscape, ready for laser cutting. Depending on the size and complexity of the finished work, the number of shapes needed can vary from 4 for a framed picture to 27 for a box diorama! When my vector drawings are finished I can then email them off to my lovely laser cutting lady who goes by the name of LaserFlair

I spent many hours at the start of the year working on new drawings which this week arrived in the flesh, so to speak. It’s always exciting when a parcel from LaserFlair comes, and I can’t wait to get started printing, painting and glueing! (But before I do that I like to lay it all out at right angles aka ‘knolling’ – I can’t help myself!)

 

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So the design process is the most lengthy part, but once that is done there’s lots of scope within to allow me to create a very different look for each piece I make, whether it’s through use of colour, pattern or even the placement of the ply shapes. Each item I make gets a unique twist! First off I decide on a general colour scheme, but that sometimes changes halfway through and goes off in a different direction! The smaller areas of wood are painted, while larger ones are printed. It helps to be working on 2 or 3 things at the same time so there’s no waiting around for ink to dry…once each piece has colour and pattern I can start placing them in their frame or box, which involves creating something of an infrastructure (ie lots of little bits of ply in strategic places) to attached the layers to.  With the smaller boxed dioramas this can get very fiddly indeed, and the tweezers are usually on standby!

And that’s more or less the process – it’s laborious at times but every piece is a labour of love. I get so much satisfaction from my work; my favourite days involve sitting in my wee studio, listening to arts programmes on the radio, and making my dioramas.

Cabin in the Woods

 

Well, as expected, 2018 is zipping by. Unbelievably we’re already into February; January was the usual struggle of getting back into the swing of things after a very busy festive season; happily, there was plenty of replenishing to do and new things to try out (along with a list of DIY jobs and trying to learn French on the side!) which got me through the darkest month.

When there is snow on the ground (like today), I like to daydream about living in a secluded wooden cabin, cosy in front of a wood-burning stove. It is no surprise then, that one of my favourite pieces to make is a cabin diorama!

 

I live in a mostly urban area, albeit in a relatively quiet corner of the town flanked by woods and river. Walk for a few minutes though, and the busy roads and new housing estates start to encroach on our peaceful enclave. The lack of foliage in the winter also leaves us a bit exposed, and I’m thankful for the line of tall evergreen leylandii at the end of our cul-de-sac, protecting us from the roar of the motorway. This might all go some way to explaining my ‘cabin in the woods’ fixation! I’ve made quite a few of these now, each one slightly different, and the most common response they illicit from people is ‘Oh I’d love to live there!’ . I guess it’s a fundamental desire in a lot of us to find solitude amidst the hectic pace of modern living, an antidote to our busy lives.

 

 

An Indie Christmas

Like a lot of people I find myself constantly struggling to comprehend where the time goes, no more so than 5 weeks before Christmas. No really, what happened to Autumn?? How come all the festive craft fairs I booked back at the start of the summer are now imminent??? Yes, this happens every year and it still always takes us by surprise…

So – time to get organised. Fortunately, shopping for Christmas presents is a complete scoosh these days due to the plethora of independent businesses producing gorgeous, original products. It’s never been easier to buy beautifully-made, unique gifts, whether it’s from a local artisan fair or shop, through marketplaces such as Etsy and Folksy, or direct from a maker’s website. Over the next three weekends I’ll be selling my work at the following fairs in Perthshire and Glasgow (full details are on the ‘Shop’ page):

They all promise to be fantastic events with a very high standard of work being exhibited; there really will be something for everyone, and it is a lovely way to shop in your local neighbourhood.

Which is more than can be said for Black Friday, which is almost upon us; a lot of small businesses will be feeling under pressure to reduce their prices to try and compete with big brands and businesses. To combat this, the wonderful Just A Card campaign has come up with INDIE FRIDAY!

Indie Friday Square by Angela Chick

Across social media Just A Card will be promoting the work of independent makers and shops from all over the UK – look out for the #JACIndieFriday #IndieFriday hashtags on Twitter and Instagram and join in the fun!
And remember – when you’re out Christmas shopping this year, don’t pass by an independent. Take a look – you never know what you might find!

 

 

Home is where the anchor drops

There’s definitely an unwelcome nip in the air today, and my proclamations of “I’ve got high hopes for some warm weather in October, last year we had some really hot days” seem a bit optimistic now! Still, it is only the 3rd…

To distract myself from the low temperatures and worryingly dark evening dog walks, I like to daydream about living by the sea (this is nothing new, it has to be said). I achieved the dream for about 8 months in 2009 (ok, that was living by an estuary but near enough). One day, I keep telling myself. In the meantime I’ll just have to be satisfied with making nautical-inspired items! Anchors away!

 

 

Into The Woods

Mad Miss Morag the Lakeland Terrier has come to stay for the day (which always puts my dog Rudy’s nose a tad out of joint); whilst they are both snoozing in between bouts of general insanity, I’m taking the opportunity to write my second blog post!

It’s a bright, but chilly, Monday morning, and I’m watching a robin and a lovely little wren fluttering about in the garden. It’s all feeling rather autumnal so it seems appropriate to bring your attention to the Just A Card Into The Woods Autumn Shopping Guide!

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It’s a wonderful selection of art and craft on an autumnal theme featuring woodland-inspired items from 25 UK based independent makers, and features my Forest Diorama. Find out more about the Just A Card campaign for independent businesses here and have a read of their blog too – you’ll discover so many fantastic makers and get an insight into how they produce their lovely work.

Right, the Terrible Terrier Twosome are stirring – time to go!

 

 

 

A bit of background info

Hello there! This is Hooperhart’s first blog post so ‘bear’ with me!

This is my new home on that intersneckle thingy, and I’ll be using it to update you on what Sad Panda Printing is up to, including new work, events and general life stuff.

I started Sad Panda Printing in 2015, when I taught myself to screenprint (with the help of YouTube, of course!) intending to use it as a means of transferring my hand-drawn patterns onto paper, fabric and plywood. After a while of experimenting with different surfaces I began to concentrate on printing onto wood – it’s such a lovely surface to print on (although the amount of sanding I have to do is pretty nightmarish!). Over time the grain of the wood’s surface has become an integral part of the overall look of each piece I make, adding another dimension to the work.

I’ll focus on some of my working methods in upcoming posts, so if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat then stay tuned (there will probably also be the occasional picture of my dog if that gives you an extra incentive)!

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